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Navy and Marine Corps Medical News
December 15, 2000
Navy and Marine Corps Medical News (MEDNEWS) is a weekly
compendium of news and information contributed by commands
throughout the Navy medical department. Information contained in
MEDNEWS stories is not necessarily endorsed by Navy Bureau of
Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) , nor should it be considered
official Navy policy.
BUMED distributes MEDNEWS to Sailors and Marines, their
families, civilian employees and retired Navy and Marine Corps
families. Further distribution is highly encouraged.
Stories in MEDNEWS use these abbreviations after a Navy
medical professional's name to show affiliation: MC - Medical
Corps (physician) ; DC - Dental Corps; NC - Nurse Corps; MSC -
Medical Service Corps (clinicians, researchers and
administrative managers) . Hospital Corpsmen (HM) and Dental
Technician (DT) designators are placed in front of their names.
Contents for this week's MEDNEWS:
- TRICARE proposes simplified pharmacy co-payment schedule
- Safety, common sense help ensure happy holidays
- Medevac is a team effort aboard GW
- Rota finds way to celebrate women, making health promotions effective
- Local high school students train at NH Halyburton
- TRICARE question and answer
- Healthwatch: Oh! My head feels like it's going to explode!
HEADLINE: TRICARE Proposes Simplified Pharmacy Co-Payment
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2000 — TRICARE officials propose to
simplify co-payments for prescription drugs in accordance with
the recent year's appropriations act. The new co-payments will
be uniform for all beneficiaries and based on whether a generic
or brand-name medication is dispensed.
The current co-payment structure is complex and confusing,
said Army Lt. Col. William G. Davies, director of DoD Pharmacy
Programs, part of the TRICARE Management Agency in Falls Church,
"We're trying to improve the TRICARE pharmacy benefit to make
it simpler to understand and more uniform, consistent and
equitable for everyone, " Davies said.
If the proposal is approved, he said, it would be kicked off
DoD-wide April 1, 2001, when the TRICARE Senior Pharmacy program
Under the proposed changes, beneficiaries would pay $3 for
generic prescription drugs and $9 for brand-name drugs at
TRICARE-af filiated retail drug stores for up to a 30-day supply
or through the National Mail Order Pharmacy program for up to a
TRICARE Prime enrollees who choose to obtain their
prescription drugs from non-TRICARE affiliated retail outlets
would continue to pay a 50 percent point-of-service fee after
meeting their deductible. All others would pay the greater of a
20 percent co-pay or a $9 charge per prescription.
"There are cost savings available to the majority of the
beneficiary population depending on how the prescription drugs
are obtained, " Davies said.
Prescriptions obtained through the mail program are generally
less expensive, he noted, because the government gets federal
pricing. Also, the patient can receive three times the quantity
for the same co-pay as through a TRICARE retail pharmacy.
Davies noted there is no co-pay for prescriptions filled at
military hospital and clinic pharmacies. This, he said, is the
best financial value for beneficiaries.
Beginning April 1, 2001, military retirees age 65 and over
will be provided the same pharmacy benefit offered to
beneficiaries under age 65.
Davies said the TRICARE Senior Pharmacy program would replace
both the Pharmacy Redesign Pilot programs conducted since July
at Fleming, Ky., and Okeechobee, Fla.
Persons who turn 65 before April 1, 2001, may participate in
the pharmacy program without having Medicare Part B, but those
who turn 65 after April 1 must be enrolled in Medicare Part B to
participate, officials noted.
- USN -
HEADLINE: Safety, Common Sense Help Ensure Happy Holidays
By Staff Sgt . Kathleen T. Rhem, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON -- I've always felt there are two important things
to keep in mind during the holidays: Don't let baby mistake the
light-up nose on your Rudolph decoration for her "Baby's 1st
Christmas" pacifier, and go easy on the rum if you share the
eggnog with your cat.
But, believe it or not, DoD safety officials have tips they
insist are better than mine.
Christmas trees are central to many families' holiday
celebrations and yet can be among the most dangerous . Keep
these tips in mind when selecting and decorating yours :
- Think fresh! Dry trees are an extreme fire hazard. Only a
few needles should fall when you shake a fresh tree, and needles
should bend but not break.
- Keep your tree outside in a bucket of water until you're
ready to decorate.
- Cut a two-inch diagonal slice off the bottom before
bringing it inside and keep water in the stand. A diagonal cut
allows your tree to "drink" more.
- Keep your tree out of traffic areas and at least three feet
from heat sources and fireplaces.
- It's easy to assume that your lighted decorations are OK
this year because they worked when you put them away last year.
Not so. Inspect them carefully before use, and be especially
alert for worn or cracked wires . Make sure all light sets have
an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) label.
Also avoid overloading outlets and extension cords.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta
suggest the following safe-handling tips for your holiday eats .
Additional information can be found on the Internet
<www . cdc . gov>
- Wash hands before and after preparing food, especially
after handling raw meat and poultry.
- Keep raw meats and poultry separate from other foods .
Clean and disinfect cutting boards and kitchen surfaces after
preparing food, and use different plates and utensils for cooked
food from those used for the raw foods.
- Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods right away after
coming home from the store.
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave oven, not
on the countertop.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Don't leave foods
out at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Identify a designated driver early or arrange for taxis
when you gather with family, friends and coworkers to celebrate
the holidays. If you're the party host, serve plenty of food
and nonalcoholic beverages. Of the 41,967 traffic fatalities in
1997, 39 percent were alcohol-related, according to the CDC ' s
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Other holiday safety tidbits gleaned from various sources
- Ensure smoke detectors work and have a fire extinguisher
handy. Consider giving these lifesaving devices as holiday
gifts to friends and family members .
- Don't burn wrapping paper in your fireplace. The colored
inks can produce toxic fumes .
- Being alone this time of year can be depressing. Don't let
someone you know spend the holidays alone.
- Choose age-appropriate gifts for children. Adhere to
warning labels and age restrictions on packages. The Consumer
Product Safety Commission has oodles of information on its
Internet site <www.cpsc.gov> that lists product recalls as well.
- USN -
HEADLINE: MEDEVAC is a team effort Aboard GW
By JOSN Rick Beiswanger, USS GEORGE WASHINGTON
ABOARD USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) — Your alarm screams at
you. It's 0530. An hour before muster. You hit the snooze
button again and again until you realize you've got just 10
minutes to get to work. You jump from your rack, and in mid-
flight, you remember you sleep in the top rack. Your landing is
soon announced over the IMC: "Medical emergency, medical
emergency in compartment ..." You've broken your leg. Now you
get to take a ride to the beach.
"Ninety percent of all medical evacuations are orthopedic
injuries," said HM2 (SW) Bobbie Turner, GW s MEDEVAC coordinator.
"There are no orthopedics on the ship. That's why when someone
needs a bone set or a cast on their leg they are medevaced off
to receive the care they need."
"If a patient needs further care beyond the facilities of the
ship, we need to get them somewhere they can be treated, " said
Cmdr. Paul Rocereto, Senior Medical Officer (SMO) . "That's the
purpose of a MEDEVAC."
When there's a MEDEVAC, the Medical Department pulls
together. Turner said. Collecting the patient's health, dental
and service records, TAD cost orders, ID card. Smart Card, and a
bag of clean clothes, the whole department helps the MEDEVAC
Team. Personal items, medications. X-ray prints, and a float
coat and cranial are among the things packaged with the patient.
And depending on the patient's condition, it might have to be
done in 30 minutes.
Sometimes there's a Sailor hospitalized in a liberty port.
That's when MEDEVAC patients return to the ship, rather than
"Our number one priority is trying to get [the patient] back
to the ship," Turner said.
When a patient is in a hospital, the SMO or the duty flight
surgeon will visit them. He'll determine if the ship can treat
the patient, but the commanding officer has the final say on
whether a patient will be evacuated.
If a MEDEVAC is needed. Turner contacts Theater Patient
Movement Requirement Center (TPMRC) , a part of the Air Force
that coordinates all MEDEVACS in Sixth Fleet's area of
responsibility (AOR) .
"A MEDEVAC takes the highest priority, " said Assistant Air
Ops. Officer Lt. Cmdr. Joe Parks. "I've got C-2s, H-53s, H-
60s, and other helicopters in the battlegroup that are at our
disposal in case of an emergency."
Probably the riskiest place to have a MEDEVAC is during an
Atlantic transit because the ship is so far from land. Parks
said. "Even in the middle of the Atlantic we are within range
of the Azores to the east, and Bermuda to the west," he added.
Lt. Gabe Soltero, a pilot with HS-15, recalls a time he was
involved in a MEDEVAC.
"The patient's condition had worsened dramatically so
everyone worked together, " Soltero said. "He was in a
stretcher, and the doctor, a flight surgeon, came along on the
flight to take care of him. From the SMO's advice, I had to
make sure I didn't go too high in altitude because of the
patient's condition. After sticking to the valleys and avoiding
high altitudes, we flew across Italy, from the Adriatic to
Naples, in an hour."
After coming back to GW and concerned about his last
passenger, Soltero kept getting updates from the SMO.
"When I heard the guy made it, it was such a good feeling, "
Soltero said. "I take my hat off to those in the Medical
Department. They're the ones who really take care of the
patients . "
- USN -
HEADLINE: Rota finds way to celebrate women making health
By Heather King Navarrete, Naval Station Rota, Spain
ROTA, SPAIN -- With all of the health awareness issues that
Americans encounter on a daily basis, it is becoming harder and
harder for health promoters to call the public's attention
toward important health-related issues. Recently, one group of
health promoters at Naval Hospital Rota was able to capture the
attention of 200 women and leave a lasting impression. The
opportunity came about when a private, non-profit organization,
spear-headed by Lt . Mari Schulz, a Navy audiologist, hosted a
one-day women's forum.
The forum, "Womanhood: The basics and beyond," included 68
workshops that ranged in a variety of topics from health and
finances to beauty and crafts and provided a chance for women to
"It was an event that meshed contributions from all base
resources into one beautifully packaged educational and fun
day," said Schulz.
During opening remarks, Breast Care Initiative Facilitator LT
Elizabeth Escalera and Mammography Technologist Kimberly Plourde
seized the opportunity to educate 200 women on breast cancer and
the importance of early detection. Escalera and Health Promoter
Betty Murphy set up a station in the banquet hall, which
provided participants a chance to speak with health experts
individually and to collect literature on the subject. There,
Escalera completed nearly 100 breast cancer risk assessments and
taught one of the 45-minute seminars offered.
The marketing opportunity the conference provided was
invaluable, said Escalera. Nearly three months after the event,
Escalera is still seeing a response.
"I still have women that were at the conference coming to the
clinic, seeking guidance and information regarding breast cancer
prevention and detection," she said.
The information was well received, said Murphy, because it
was provided in a forum where women would be open to the
"When you have a big forum like that, it is helpful because
it gives you a chance to get the message out in a different
way," she said. "[As a health promoter], you are always looking
for innovative ways to get the message out."
The event proved that careful marketing really does make a
difference, said Schulz.
- USN -
HEADLINE: Local high school students train at at Halyburton
By Cpl. Jason Morris, MCAS Cherry Point, N.C.
CHERRY POINT, NC — Eleven seniors from Havelock High School
are fulfilling one of many clinical requirements for the state
certification for certified nursing assistant at Halyburton,
according to Laurence Tarnowski, Havelock High School teacher.
"The CNA-1 is an entry-level position to health care," said
Tarnowski. "They're in their last program in a series to attain
the CNA . "
The high school program contains three-levels. The course
begins in the student's sophomore year when they take the
selective course called biomedical technology. If the students
want to go further, they need to take a prerequisite course in
their junior year, which is primarily anatomy and physiology,
according to Tarnowski.
"This particular course is a double-period course, which is a
three-hour block of time," said Tarnowski. "So we spend the
first nine weeks learning basic skills. The second nine weeks,
we spend in clinical rotation: three-weeks at Britthaven
Convalescent Center, and about seven-weeks at the naval hospital
rotating through the different departments."
Members of the Halyburton staff appreciate the students'
willingness to help.
"I think it's a great program," said Petty Officer 2nd class
Willie McDonald, Naval Hospital Halyburton physical therapy
technician. "The students are very helpful to us and they get a
lot of first hand knowledge about the medical field."
More than half of the current students in the class are
military family members stationed here with their parents.
"This course is a good start," said Matthew Merrill, son of
CWO-4 Mark R. Merrill, Marine Aircraft Group 14 centralized
administration director. "It's a real good learning experience.
I plan on taking this knowledge into the medical field."
"I think it's an excellent class," said CWO-4 Merrill. "It
gives the students the opportunity to observe and experience the
career options in the medical field."
"This is an exceptionally good group," said Tarnowski.
"They're very ambitious and very inquisitive. It's really a
boost for me, after teaching these past six years. This is
probably one of the better groups I've had.
"They're very trustworthy and their integrity is beyond
question. It has to be so, working in health care," Tarnowski
- USN -
HEADLINE: TRICARE Question and Answer
Question: What is the National Mail Order Pharmacy Program
Answer: The NMOP is DoD's new timesaving and inexpensive mail
order service for maintenance prescriptions. Beneficiaries can
receive free delivery to a home, temporary stateside address, or
- USN -
HEALTHWATCH: Oh! My head feels like it's going to explode!
By Lt . Cmdr. Mark Kiefer, MC, Naval Hospital Pensacola, Fla .
Your sinuses hurt. You have a fever, and discolored nasal
discharge. You must have a sinus infection, right? Not
necessarily! Before you spend the time and effort to see your
doctor, please take a moment to consider your options.
Why do my sinuses hurt? Sinus pain does not mean you have a
sinus infection. Viruses that infect the nose, hay fever, or
allergies often involve the sinuses. The pain is due to
blockage of the sinus openings preventing them from draining
Why do I have a fever? Fever does not mean you have a
bacterial infection. A fever less than 101 degrees is common in
colds, and higher fevers of 101 to 104 are often seen in flu-
What about my yellow and green nasal discharge? Green nasal
discharge does not mean bacteria cause your infection. The
green or yellow color of your nasal secretions indicates your
body is successfully fighting infection. Inflammatory cells
that fight infection cause the color. Green and yellow nasal
discharge is often seen in colds that are getting better and in
people with hay fever and allergies .
What are some of the ways I can tell a viral illness from a
true bacterial sinus infection? Symptoms of a viral infection
of the nose and sinuses include clear to yellow or green nasal
discharge, low grade fever, headache, sinus pain, muscle aches
and sore throat. Symptoms that last longer than 10 days with no
improvement or symptoms that worsen over 5 to 7 days may
indicate a bacterial sinus infection. Additionally, nasal
discharge that looks like the contents of a pimple (pus) may
indicate a sinus infection.
Why not just treat my symptoms with an antibiotic?
Antibiotics will not cure viral infections and can be harmful if
given inappropriately. Antibiotics disrupt cell walls and
unique reproducing mechanisms in bacteria. Viruses do not
contain these cell walls or reproducing mechanisms, and
therefore will not respond to antibiotics. Despite these facts,
it is estimated that 20-60 percent of patients with the common
cold leaves their physician's office with a prescription for an
What possible harms can an antibiotic cause? Overuse of
antibiotics can lead to the development of bacteria that do not
respond to the usual antibiotics that we currently use to treat
infections. We are currently seeing an alarming rise in
bacteria that have developed this resistance. This is largely
due to treating people who have viral infections unnecessarily
with antibiotics .
If you routinely receive antibiotics for colds and viruses,
you are far more likely to become infected with these resistant
bacteria. Additionally, antibiotics have side effects that
include nausea, diarrhea, skin rash, and allergic reactions .
Some allergic reactions can be severe enough to require
Can I prevent an infection by taking the antibiotic before I
get sick? Treating viral infections with antibiotics will not
prevent bacterial infections. Trying to prevent bacterial
infection by prescribing antibiotics can be harmful, as it
increases the likelihood that you will get an infection with a
bacteria that will not respond to the antibiotics we use.
Furthermore, most patients recover from cold and virus symptoms
in 10 to 14 days.
What medications and treatments have been proven to help
relieve the symptoms of cold and viral infections of the nose
and sinuses? Cool mist vaporizers may relieve symptoms.
Tylenol and Motrin can be used for fever and pain. Saline
rinses and decongestants (like Afrin spray and Sudafed tablets)
may help. Some studies show a possible benefit from Zinc
Gluconate (Cold/Eeze) when taken every 2 hours while you have
symptoms. Antihistamines and nasal steroids are not
When should I contact my doctor? If you have symptoms that
may suggest a bacterial sinus infection, you should consider
seeing your doctor. Three out of every five patients with
bacterial sinus infection will get better with no treatment.
Patients with chronic illnesses (such as diabetes or cancer) an
patients taking drugs that suppress their ability to fight
infection (such as oral steroids) should see their doctor early
if they develop symptoms of infection.
Finally, if you develop paralysis of the face, double vision
swelling over the forehead or swelling around the eye, with
symptoms of sinus infection, you should see your doctor
If you have other questions about sinusitis, contact your
doctor. Be proactive in your health. Insist that your doctor
explain the need for an antibiotic before accepting a
prescription you may not need.
(Lt. Cmdr . Mark Kiefer is a board-certified Family Practice
physician at Naval Hospital Pensacola, Fla.)
Comments and ideas for MEDNEWS are welcome. Story Submissions
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